BUSINESSWOMAN EULA SIMS DURBIN; Congressional Record Vol. 142, No. 50
(Senate - April 18, 1996)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages S3621-S3622]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. HEFLIN. Mr. President, Eula Sims Durbin, who was a pioneer of the 
modern poultry industry in Alabama and throughout the southeast, passed 
away late last month at the age of 98. She earned a place in the annals 
of Alabama business history during the dark years of the Great 
Depression when she and her husband Marshall used her $500 in savings 
to finance a new business venture, a fish concession. Eventually, the 
Durbins switched to dressed chickens because of the great difficulty in 
keeping fresh fish, and opened their own processing plant in 
Birmingham. Today, the Birmingham-based Marshall Durbin Companies is 
the nation's 10th largest poultry producer.
  On April 2, the Birmingham Post-Herald carried an excellent story 
detailing the history and growth of Marshall Durbin Companies and of 
the crucial role Mrs. Durbin played in its enormous success. I ask 
unanimous consent that the text of the article be printed in the Record 
after my remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (See Exhibit 1.)
  Mr. HEFLIN. Mr. President, Mrs. Eula S. Durbin will long be 
remembered for her astute business instincts, for her willingness to 
take risks, and for her perseverance in the face of great uncertainty 
and adversity. I extend my condolences to her family in the wake of 
their loss.

                               exhibit 1

            [From the Birmingham Post-Herald, April 2, 1996]

                   Mrs. Durbin's Risks are Remembered

                         (By Patrick Rupinski)

       When they write about the seeds of Alabama's successful 
     businesses, the gamble of Eula Sims Durbin will be recorded.
       Mrs. Durbin risked all of her personal savings in a move 
     that helped build the poultry industry in both Alabama and 
     the Southeast.
       Mrs. Durbin, who co-founded Marshall Durbin Cos. with her 
     husband--the late Marshall Durbin Sr., died Thursday. She was 
       ``She worked to build this company and kept an active 
     interest in it even in her 90s,''

[[Page S3622]]

     said Pat Shea, a spokeswoman for Birmingham-based Marshall 
     Durbin Companies, the nation's 10th largest poultry producer.
       Mrs. Durbin's place in Alabama's business history occurred 
     as the Great Depression gripped Birmingham in the 1930s.
       Her husband wanted to start a business even though 
     businesses were failing in record numbers.
       Money was tight, but Mrs. Durbin believed in her husband 
     enough to give him her $500 in savings to finance the 
     venture, a fish concession at a Birmingham market.
       The business struggled, particularly in the hot Alabama 
     summers when a lack of refrigeration made keeping fish fresh 
     difficult. But Mrs. Durbin never shied from taking a risk and 
     supported her husband's decision to begin selling dressed 
       The move proved popular and soon chicken sales replaced 
     fish. In time, the Durbins opened their own chicken 
     processing plant in downtown Birmingham.
       It started small with Mrs. Durbin doing the bookkeeping and 
     other chores, said Ms. Shea, who had interviewed Mrs. Durbin 
     for a history of the company.
       By the 1950s, the poultry industry was changing. No longer 
     did farmers with a few hens sell directly to poultry 
     processors. The industry was becoming highly integrated.
       By the 1960s, Marshall Durbin Companies had become part of 
     the changes. It added more processing plants plus feed mills, 
     hatcheries, growing facilities and distribution centers.
       Today, the family-owned company has annual sales of about 
     $200 million with facilities in three states--Alabama, 
     Mississippi and Tennessee.
       The chickens--processed at a rate of more than 2 million a 
     week--end up as everything from frozen breaded nuggets at 
     local supermarkets to cut pieces at KFC restaurants in 
     California and frozen leg quarters shipped to Russia.
       Ms. Shea said Mrs. Durbin however, always seemed to take 
     the most pride in how her husband taught their son the 
       Durbin died in 1971. The couple's son, Marshall Durbin Jr., 
     runs the company today.
       Mrs. Durbin's interest in the company never waned. Even in 
     her 90s when she was legally blind, she would have someone 
     read her the monthly employee newsletter, Ms. Shea said.
       Mrs. Durbin was born in Brookhaven, Miss., and moved to 
     Sulligent after finishing her education, becoming a secretary 
     to the president of a lumber company. She met her future 
     husband while in Sulligent.
       Their courtship blossomed after Mrs. Durbin moved to 
     Birmingham to take another secretarial job.
       Mrs. Durbin's funeral will be at 2 p.m. today at Ridout's 
     Valley Chapel, followed by a private family burial. Survivors 
     besides her son include two granddaughters, two great-
     grandsons and six sisters.
       In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the 
     Eula Sims Durbin Scholarship Fund at Birmingham-Southern 
     College, Box 549003, Birmingham, Ala. 35254.